At this point, why change our tradition?
Sure, it's not the favorite article to read every year for Cowboys fans. Basically, it's a "who we couldn't stop" team, but once again, the staff writers of DallasCowboys.com has gathered a list of the best players we saw all season long.
It's not going to be the same as the All-Pro or even Pro Bowlers. These are the guys who might've struggled all year long, but against the Cowboys, they certainly did not.
Of the 27 players selected, no team produced more than four. To no surprise, the 49ers, Bucs and Broncos each had four players on the list. Kansas City and Arizona each had three guys make it.
So let's get to it once again for this year's 2021 All-Opponent Team:
- QB – Derek Carr, Raiders - There weren't a lot of options here, aside from maybe Teddy Bridgewater and Tom Brady. But Carr not only led the Raiders to a comeback win, but seemed to adapt well to the Thanksgiving Day penalty-fest and got a few late flags to go their way.
- RB – Javonte Williams, Broncos – The rookie looked like Jim Brown in the game against the Cowboys, refusing to get tackled at times.
- RB – Deebo Samuel, 49ers - He isn't listed as a running back, but hurt the Cowboys the most as a runner in the playoff game, with a back-breaking touchdown run in the third quarter.
- WR – Antoine Wesley, Cardinals – Caught two touchdowns in Arizona's win over the Cowboys, including a deep ball against Trevon Diggs.
- WR – Chris Godwin, Bucs – What seemed like a lifetime ago back in Week 1, Godwin was a challenge to stop for the Cowboys and even came up with a huge catch in the final drive that led to the game-winning field goal.
- WR Kadarius Toney, Giants – Before he was ejected for throwing a punch, Toney had a huge day for the Giants, catching 10 passes for 189 yards.
- TE – Rob Gronkowski, Bucs – Before the game, the Cowboys were one of the few teams Gronk had never scored against. That changed quickly in the season opener as he caught two in the 31-29 win.
- OT – Rashawn Slater, Chargers – There was plenty of debate at the draft if the Cowboys should've taken Slater or Micah Parsons. It's hard to think the Cowboys got it wrong, but Slater was great all year, including Week 2. Parsons was able to shine, but not against Slater.
- OT – Trent Williams, 49ers – The All-Pro anchored the 49ers line that didn't even give up a sack in the playoff win.
- G – Trey Smith, Chiefs – It wasn't Kansas City's best day moving the ball, but it also wasn't a great day for the Cowboys' defense. Smith was able to control the inside and give just enough running and passing lanes for the Chiefs to operate.
- G – Dalton Risner, Broncos – Denver was able to run the ball up and down the field, gashing the Cowboys in the middle. Give Risner a ton of credit for that and the Broncos controlled the line of scrimmage.
- C – Alex Mack, 49ers – The Cowboys were able to thrive off sacks and pressure, especially up the middle. But in the playoffs, Mack helped stabilize the line and give Jimmy G enough time to function, particularly early in the game.
- K –Daniel Carlson, Raiders – Not only did he kick the game-winner in overtime, but four other field goals in a 36-33 Thanksgiving Day win.
- DE – Chandler Jones, Cardinals – While he didn't post a sack, he did have three tackles, two behind the line of scrimmage, three QB pressures and a forced fumble as the Cardinals were able to hold down the Cowboys' offensive attack.
- DT – Chris Jones, Chiefs – By far, the most dominating player to face the Cowboys this year. The reason Dallas had just nine points in its loss to KC, was Jones. He had 3.5 sacks, had countless plays in the backfield and also registered with two more tackles for loss. The Cowboys had no answer for him – and as a result, no touchdowns as well.
- DT – Arik Armstead, 49ers – As expected, Armstead was a force in the middle of the line. San Francisco was able to bring pressure with just four players most of the time and a big reason for that was Armstead's consistent movement in the middle.
- DE – Shaq Barrett, Bucs – The Cowboys were able to move the ball on the Bucs but Barrett was still a problem for the O-line, recording a sack and harassing Dak several other times in the pocket.
- LB – Jonathan Cooper, Broncos – He was around the ball seemingly all day, especially in the offensive backfield. He sacked Dak twice and had two more tackles for loss as the Broncos became the first team to truly slow down the offensive attack.
- LB – Ja'Whaun Bentley, Patriots – The Cowboys were able to get the win in the end, but Bentley was dynamic, getting 13 tackles, one for loss and a forced fumble and a key fourth-down stop early in the game.
- LB – Lorenzo Carter, Giants – The Cowboys beat NYG twice but in the second game, Carter was a beast for the Giants, recording two sacks in a defensive-minded game.
- LB – Cole Holcomb, WFT – He wasn't a big factor in the second game with the Cowboys but he was not only hard to block in the first game, but had a pick-six touchdown that nearly helped WFT pull off a comeback.
- CB – Charvarius Ward, Chiefs – He was making a few plays during the Cowboys training camp in 2018 before Dallas traded him to Kansas City. Now, he's a starter for a team heading to its fourth straight AFC Championship Game. Against the Cowboys, he had seven tackles and a game-changing interception.
- CB – Ronald Darby, Broncos – Denver had a trio of corners that seemingly played well against the Cowboys, shutting down the passing attack and the receivers. If it wasn't Darby, it was Pat Surtain and/or Kyle Fuller making plays. All three had great games, but we gave the nod to Darby.
- S – Budda Baker, Cardinals – Arizona's defense gave the Cowboys plenty of problems and Baker filled up the stat sheet, with three tackles, one for loss, a sack and two pass deflections.
- S – Xavier Woods, Vikings – Another former Cowboy on the list. Woods and teammate Harrison Smith had a productive day for the Vikings, but it was Woods who had a sack/forced fumble and an interception.
- P – A.J. Cole, Raiders – He had a 68-yard punt against the Cowboys, the longest by an opponent all year. But Cole also had four punts inside the 20. And as the holder, he held for all five of Carlson's field goals, including the game-winner.
- Returner – Jaydon Mickens, Bucs – He handled both punts and kickoffs against the Cowboys and his 41-yard kickoff return – the longest against the Cowboys all year – set up a quick touchdown from Brady to Brown just before halftime.